Public Meeting Minutes

September 14, 2017



Haldane PTA
Public Meeting Minutes

September 14, 2017, 9AM


In Attendance:  Diana Hird (President), Jenn Sporbert (HS VP), Giannina Cappello (MS VP), Makiko Parsons (Treasurer), Eileen Denehy (VP, Elementary), Diana Bowers (Superintendent), David Wallick (ES Principal), MaryAnn Seelke (MS Principal),  Julia Sniffen (HS Principal), Sandy McKelvey, Cindy Cohen, Evelyn Carr White, Lourdes Laifer, Ruth Ann Cullinan Barr, Caitlin Chadwick


The meeting began at 9AM with the recitation of the mission by PTA President Diana Hird. The agenda and sign-in sheet were circulated.

Mission:  To support the Haldane school by providing the organizational framework for parental involvement, to serve as an outlet for creative community input, and offer enriching experiences for students and their families.



Welcome New/Returning Executive Committee Members

  • President- Diana Hird

  • Vice President Middle School- Giannina Cappello

  • Vice President High School- Jennifer Ehrenspeck Sporbert

  • Treasurer- Makiko Parsons

  • Corresponding Secretary- Julisa Rincon Tomizawa

  • Recording Secretary- Alex Dubroff


Address by Administration/Committee Chairs

Mr. Wallick introduced himself as the new Elementary School Principal, as did Mrs. Seelke as the Middle School Principal.  Mrs. Seelke suggested that the PTA reach out to the new librarian in order to coordinate our Amazon Smile program with books recommended by the librarian. Sandy McKelvey gave an overview of the Garden Committee initiatives.  Cindy Cohen gave an overview of the Enrichment classes being offered this fall. Kory Reisterer gave an update on the Learning Differences committee. Lourdes Laifer gave an overview of the HS Enrichment program.  Evelyn Carr White talked about the Haldane School Foundation.  Ruth Ann Cullinan Barr volunteered to manage the Fall Book Fair.


Finance Report

Makiko Parsons gave an overview of the budget for the 2017-2018 year.


Adopt June meeting minutes -There was a motion to adopt the meeting minutes from the meeting held in June 2017 that passed.


General Discussion

Diana Hird went over outstanding volunteer needs.  Eileen Denehy shared with the group that she created a spreadsheet of all people who volunteered to help the PTA.  Diana Hird also talked about the Fall Festival.

  • Book Fair

  • Harvest Festival- 11 am to 3 pm: Coordinator- Julisa Rincon-Tomizawa

  • Special Events/Hospitality: planning, set-up, and hosting.  Includes refreshments for regular events and meetings.


S/Alex Dubroff, Recording Secretary

October 19, 2017







ATTENDEES (14 - quorum met)

Alex Dubroff (President), Jenn Sporbert (HS VP), Giannina Cappello (MS VP), Eileen Denehy (Elementary VP), Makiko Parsons (Treasurer), Julisa Rincon Tomizawa (Corresponding Secretary), Caitlin Chadwick (Nominated Recording Secretary), David Wallick (ES Principal), MaryAnn Seelke (MS Principal), Julia Sniffen (HS Principal), Lori Isler (Teacher Representative), Lourdes Laifer, Ruthanne Cullinan Barr, Kory Riesterer, Eliza Starbuck, Cynthia Cohen, Gina Swan, Carolyn Llewellyn.

The meeting began at 3:30 pm with the recitation of the mission by PTA President Alex Dubroff. The sign in sheet was circulated. The agenda, previous meeting minutes & the committee membership spreadsheet was distributed & available at the front of the room.



To support the Haldane school by providing the organizational framework for parental involvement, to serve as an outlet for creative community input, and offer enriching experiences for students and their families.



Makiko Parsons gave an overview of the revised budget for the 2017-2018 year.  
Fundraising opportunities: Amazon Smile, Invest in Haldane, Book Fair & Picnic (moved to the Spring). Programs are the same as the previous year.



In addition to the updates outlined in the Committee Membership Spreadsheet, Diana Hind stepped down from the President's position. Alex Dubroff is transitioning from Recording Secretary to President and Caitlin Chadwick will be joining the Executive Board to take Alex’s place.  




David Wallick spoke briefly about the Elementary School’s development over the past 7 weeks, highlighting the start of the enrichment program and the book fair’s approach in November.

MaryAnn Seelke opened with a thank you to the MS VP for the upcoming Enrichment program. She went into detail about the Experiential Learning opportunities in the MS, highlighting the 8th grade’s trip to the Foundry and the 7th grade’s trip to Long Duck Pond in Beacon. She went into detail about the implementation of STEAM for the Beacon trip, including a poetry station combining the nature topic with their current reading as well as an art station where they worked on still lifes of trees. Their creations will be up for everyone’s viewing pleasure in the 7th-grade hallway.  Mrs. Seelke also shared some results of the recent SGO elections, congratulating Rowan Locascio McLaughlin as President and Shea DeCaro as VP. She wrapped up with some PD & Instruction highlights: ICT co-teaching model, deeper learning experiences, and learner profiles.

Julia Sniffen elaborated on the three professional development (PD) topics also happening at the HS. And then went on to speak about all of their exciting upcoming events. Kicking them off with tonight’s annual 9th & 10th grade parent night with the theme of “everything you wish you knew before your kid was a junior in high school”. In addition to each department head, there will be 4 guest speakers covering: Boces Tech Programming, ACT vs SAT, NC2A & ROTC Programming. She’s hoping that the expanded agenda & hard work will ensure a large turnout. Second is the district-wide Red Ribbon Week. The HS’ agenda for the week starting on 10/23: Mon is Tobacco Awareness, Tues is Alcohol Awareness, Weds is Drug Awareness, Thursday is Electronic Addiction Awareness & Fri is Sugar & Caffeine Awareness. And to continue in that theme, the pier leadership kids are currently working on an Electronics-Free Lunch and are creating entertaining table tents for the occasion. Another exciting upcoming event is the Family Spaghetti Dinner, happening 10/26, all proceeds going to the Habitat Humanity trip. There is a suggested donation of $25 for dinner and a ‘show’. The show, in this case, will be the student/faculty volleyball game which is directly following supper. The PTA board offered to help spread the word. And lastly, HS Enrichment offerings will start October 30th.

Isler welcomed everyone back and expressed her gratitude for everyone’s continued time and effort looking forward to a great & collaborative year ahead.



Eileen Denehy reminded everyone of the PTA’s Parrott Street Candy Drive and the locations for drop off. For those people who cannot make it out, there is an Amazon link to order and have it shipped directly.

Julia Sniffen discussed the two openings on the Code of Conduct Committee. They’re looking for an elementary representative and secondary representative to form a working group that’s productive and uses research to help support our kids in driving the decisions we make as we create these policies. Meetings are on Mondays, timing varies. Email Sniffen if interested.

Julisa acknowledged the efforts of the school district to welcome & appreciate our community’s second language learners and children of immigrants creating a safe and warm environment for them and their children.

Caitlin Chadwick spoke about two committees still in need of chairs: Laminating Committee and Membership Committee.

Lourdes Laifer thanked all of the PTA members for taking on the workload and volunteering.

The lack of committee descriptions was brought up by a parent. She was directed to the PTA website for full descriptions and was also invited to ask the board members for information at any time.

Next Public Meeting will November 16th @7pm in the Music Room.


S/Caitlin Chadwick, Recording Secretary



18 JANUARY 2018 / 3:30 PM / MSHS LIBRARY

ATTENDEES (12 - quorum met)

Alex Dubroff (President), Ruthanne Cullinan Barr, Maki Parsons (Treasurer), Diana Bowers (Superintendent), Jennifer Daly (BOE), Jenn Spobert (HS VP), Eileen Denehy (Elementary VP), Giannina Cappello (MS VP), *David Wallick (ES Principal), *MaryAnn Seelke (MS Principal), *Julia Sniffen (HS Principal), Jennifer Sandlund

The meeting began at 3:35pm with recitation of the mission by President, Alex Dubroff. The Recording Secretary & Corresponding Secretary were unable to attend. The sign-in sheet was circulated. The agenda & previous meeting minutes were distributed & made available at the front of the room.

*attendees that were present but did not sign the attendance sheet.


To support the Haldane school by providing the organizational framework for parental involvement, to serve as an outlet for creative community input, and offer enriching experiences for students and their families.


DIANA BOWERS addressed the number of snow days on the books and that any more will start affecting scheduled vacation days. She briefly explained that there are 187 calendar school days, 180 of which the district is reimbursed for. She assured us that there are contingencies in place in the calendar for particularly challenging seasons like the one we are currently experiencing. Although it is not something that they want to do, there are ways to rework the calendar so that we can have 9 snow days and still be ok.

State aid funds came in this week and she gave us a summary of what the district can expect. One aide category she elaborated on was Foundation Aide, which is used to run the district, increased by $4,000 from last year. Between all of the categories including Expense Driven Aide and Building Aide (which is already spent) the district will be getting back $75,000. Because the information is so fresh, the BOE will be working on reviewing all of the information and more information will be available in the near future.   

DAVID WALLICK acknowledged the staff’s efforts to get everyone back into a rhythm which has been very challenging with amount of days off this winter between scheduled & unexpected breaks. PCNR featured the golf course that students built as part of their Science 21 study of force & velocity. The amount of work the students did including carpentry and research in addition to math & science was very impressive and great to see, especially for the parents that could attend. This is only one of the many exciting projects happening at the elementary school many of which are a culmination of many weeks of hard work.  

JULIA SNIFFEN expressed her appreciation for everyone staying on top of all of the emails & notifications regarding the scheduling of current midterms and next week’s regents. They are working hard to keep everyone in the loop and give a few days notice of any and all changes. She continued by praising the students body and highlighted a few happenings. Poetry Out Loud is a huge success with two students, Nicole Mitchell & Lidija Slokenbergs, moving on to the next level. Additionally Lidija was just named the recipient of Putnam County’s VFW Patriot’s Pen Voice In Democracy Award, which is quite an accomplishment. NHS Induction Ceremony was last week which was a beautiful ceremony when 42 student that were inducted. 20 Garrison students will be visiting next week.

MARYANNE SEELKE Gesson’s DCI (Discover, Create, Innovate) class is presenting two projects (tunnel beautification & skate park) to the Philipstown Village Board on 1/23 @7:30pm in the village hall. Annesi’s 7th grade class is presenting their history projects at the annual Putnam Museum Viewing party on 1/22 at the Desmond Fish Library. The MS dance is on 2/9 from 6:30-9pm and is now for 6th, 7th & 8th grade and has some additional special activities coordinated by PTA MS VP, Giannina Cappello including face painting and karaoke, face painting. MS students chose Wonder by R.J. Palacia for the Community Reads evening on 2/22 @6:30. The community is welcome to join and anyone who would like to purchase the book, it is available in the main office and through Amazon Smile (Haldane PTA Amazon Smile).  


Makiko Parsons gave a financial report.  



SUPERINTENDENT SEARCH: Putnam Northern Westchester BOCES is the firm handling the search. The superintendent of PNW BOCES is a Cold Spring resident with children attending Haldane, James Ryan. All of the input that was received was synthesised into a description of what we are looking for as a community and has been circulated. Applications are currently being collected and will be narrowed down to a select group with the help of the firm. The 3-4 finalists will go through 2 sets of interviews. The first will be by a committee of stakeholders like the PTA and the teacher’s union. The feedback from the first round of interviews will be compiled for the BOE’s second round of interviews. The goal is to have a decision made by April 1st.

BOND REFERENDUM: Jen passed around copies of the latest spreadsheet. The hope is to have everything finalized in time to include a referendum vote in May’s budget vote. The biggest ticket item is $3-4m for the replacement of the heat transport system. The board has gone through great lengths to confirm that this is an issue that needs to be addressed immediately. Jen then passed around a printout of a list of leaks to date. The final test they are conduction is an infrared survey which started today. The results will be shared when they are received in a month. The second largest line item is the replacement of all of the windows and sills in the ES. Lastly, on 2/6 there will be a public hearing about redoing the bathrooms by using money from the repair reserves to start the process, otherwise it will be a couple years before it is addressed. Jen Daly & Dr Bowers answered individual questions.

BOE HAS TWO SEATS UP FOR ELECTION: There is an election in May to fill 2 of the 5 spots so they are looking for people who would be a good fit. Jen welcomed anyone looking for more information about what being a BOE member entails.  

FRIENDS & FAMILY UNIVERSITY 1/30:  Jen passed out information about the evening planned and Dr Bowers shared information about the day the district has planned including the three speakers, the break out sessions and the “hidden mischief” presentation from Putnam CTC.


SPRING BOOK FAIR - Ruthann spoke about the Scholastic buy one get one event for both ES & MS/HS in May. She assured that this will be a book only sale, all trinkets will be removed prior to the sale start. She spoke about ordering books from a different source to resell moving forward.

MS DANCE - Giannina is looking for karaoke & face painting volunteers. She will be reaching out to the music department for a safe playlist.

GET OUT & VOTE COMMITTEE - looking for volunteers.


The next meeting is on February 15th @9:00am Butterfield Library.


S/Caitlin Chadwick, Recording Secretary




ATTENDEES (16 - quorum met)

Giannina Cappello (MS VP), Eileen Denehy (Elementary VP), Makiko Parsons (Treasurer), Julisa Rincon Tomizawa (Corresponding Secretary), Caitlin Chadwick (Nominated Recording Secretary), Diana Bowers (Superintendent), David Wallick (ES Principal), MaryAnn Seelke (MS Principal), Ashley Linda (Women’s Empowerment), Andrea McCue (Identity Club), Ruthanne Cullinan Barr, Maeve EngWong, Nicole Mitchell (Peer Mentoring), Aidan Cimino (Peer Mentoring), Kristina DiGiglio, Eileen Caufield.

The meeting began at 7:05pm with recitation of the mission by Corresponding Secretary, Julisa Rincon Tomizawa. PTA President, Alex Dubroff, and HS VP, Jenn Spobert, were unable to attend due to health related issues. The sign-in sheet was circulated. The agenda, previous meeting minutes & parent survey results were distributed & made available at the front of the room.


To support the Haldane school by providing the organizational framework for parental involvement, to serve as an outlet for creative community input, and offer enriching experiences for students and their families.


DIANA BOWERS filled everyone in on some facilities related issues. She spoke about the letter she sent regarding the proposed cell phone tower and the remarkable attendance at the two town meetings, one of which was held right on the Haldane campus. She shared the objectives of the residents fighting against having any towers built in our community and encouraged any concerned citizens to stay in the know, attend any local meetings and do what they can to help in the efforts.

Dr. Bowers invited everyone to the December 19th BOE meeting where they will be discussing the bond referendum the district is working on. The nature of the referendum is health & safety with the main focus of the pipe system in the Elementary school building. The decaying system is original from 1930’s and in desperate need of replacement; any delays will increase the risk of the entire heating system failing. The BOE is working with the community with the goal of the referendum passing in May so it can be submitted to the state department in time for construction to begin during the summer of 2019.

DAVID WALLICK praised the efforts of Ruthanne Barr and all of the volunteers responsible for making the Scholastic Bookfair a huge success. He also spoke proudly of the elementary students and all their hard work on the Student Council Election. Whether they were running or voting, they took the process very seriously resulting in hallways covered in campaign posters and thought out speeches. As of December 7th, Haldane Elementary officially has class representatives from grades 3, 4 & 5 as well as four officers who will meet regularly with Mrs Spooner, a fifth grade teacher, to make our school even better.  

MARYANNE SEELKE was excited to share the 7th grade’s second annual community service day tomorrow afternoon. With the help of Danielle Pece & Heide Gesson the students will participate in numerous activities some of which include the FoodTown food drive, reading to 3 & 4 year old at St. Basils, campus cleanup and distributing positive conversation starters at local pizzerias.



Makiko Parsons gave a financial report.  
Year to date, Amazon Smile has brought in $111.80, so more involvement is needed. Invest in Haldane & membership is 900 less than expected and elementary enrichment was lower than years past. However, the Book Fair was huge success.


Maeve EngWong gave an update on Learning Differences’ current efforts organizing the big 6th grade project and picking an appropriate speaker for this year.

FAMILY & FRIENDS UNIVERSITY - 1/30 (snow date: 1/31)

The event’s focus is the teenage brain, biological shifts, decision making, social media & drug use. The speaker,  Michael Nearny, has been invited to come speaking to grades 7, 8 & 9 during the school day and then friends and family are invited to come enjoy dinner & join the conversation. Babysitting will be provided. The PTA & the HSF will be helping to offset the costs.  


Caitlin Chadwick introduced three groups that were invited to introduce themselves at the meeting with the goal of opening up lines of communication between staff, parents and students to discuss the issues that young people face in our community and how their groups address those issues. Ashley Linda, faculty advisor for the Women’s Empowerment Club, Andrea McCue, faculty advisor for the Identity Club and Nicole Mitchell & Aidan Cimino who are student representatives for Peer Mentoring as well as the Identity Club took the time to speak about how their groups were founded, why they became personally involved and what each of their groups’ missions are.

The PTA will be compiling a list of all the clubs and special interest groups at Haldane with descriptions so that everyone can learn about what resources are available for their children. The list will be made available on the PTA website (

Dr Bowers invited Nicole & Aidan to suggest topics that they feel would be pertinent to include during Friends & Family University.  And the conversation continued as meeting attendees had the opportunity to ask questions and comment on how everyone can work together to further strengthen our community.


SURVEY RESULTS (available at

Caitlin Chadwick spoke about the PTA’s reasons for sending out the survey and the boards ambitions to address the wants and concerns of school community.  


Julisa Rincon Tomizawa applauded the school for its efforts to become paperless.

Julisa also shared her gratitude on behalf of the Latino community for creating such a warm and safe environment for them and their children.

Caitlin Chadwick thanked Dr Bowers for making the decision to get involved in Philipstown’s cell tower situation and being such a powerful voice and advocate for our children.


The December Public Meeting has been cancelled. The next meeting is on January 18th @3:30pm in MS/HS Library.


S/Caitlin Chadwick, Recording Secretary

No meeting in December

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